By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Milwaukee 112, Philadelphia 98 – Box Score
If you’re the type of person who hates uncertainty in life, then Monday night’s game between the Sixers and Bucks was for you. After the opening tip, there was no doubt Milwaukee was coming away with the victory. It took the Sixers over 5 minutes of game time to make their first field goal, as they quickly fell behind by double digits. That deficit snowballed to over 20 points, where it resided for a good chunk of the second half, before the classic Sixers garbage time comeback made the final score look more respectable.
After losing the battle of incredibly talented, basketball freak-of-natures in a Sixers win earlier this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo was undoubtedly happy to not see Joel Embiid patrolling the rim anymore. The Greek Freak cruised to an easy 24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. Pristine ball movement was really the star of the night for the Bucks, which led to Tony Snell (he of the most recent Michael Carter-Williams trade) hitting 5 of 7 threes for 21 points. The high point for comedy on the night was in the first half when Sixers announcer Marc Zumoff said in utter disbelief, “Tony Snell has 18 points!”
Rookie of the Year Battle
If voters decide Joel Embiid’s 31 games played aren’t enough to win the award, then this game featured the two top players vying for Rookie of the Year honors. Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon ended the night with 13 points on 6-7 shooting, and 5 rebounds. Meanwhile, Dario Saric tallied 14 points on 5-15 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
The game was a microcosm of the argument between the two sides. Brogdon is only ever the 3rd or 4th option on the court for Milwaukee, so he only has to hit open shots, make the extra pass, or finish around the rim off a nice feed. On the other hand, Saric has basically been the Sixers offense for weeks now; his efficiency numbers are certainly lacking, but the counting stats and eye test show up as the much more impactful player. Generally, voters go the counting stats/eye test route, but there may be Sixers fatigue with this award, or a situation with Embiid splitting votes among those partial to the Philadelphia guys.
Up-and-Coming Young Sixers?
While much of it came in garbage time, Justin Anderson had another good outing with a team-high 19 points in 23 minutes. Anderson attacks the rim like it came after his family, an aggressiveness that really stood out on a night the Sixers looked so lethargic as a team.
There’s a lot of Jerami Grant in Anderson’s game. I’m still trying to piece together whether Grant is a floor or ceiling for him, which obviously makes a huge difference in his overall evaluation.
In his NBA debut, Sevens call-up Shawn Long scored 13 points on 5-8 shooting, hit his only three-point attempt, grabbed 7 rebounds, and blocked Greg Monroe on his first defensive possession. Aside from injuring Ben Simmons, I liked everything I saw from Long before the season. He certainly looked like he belonged in his first official NBA action; let’s see some more from him.
If you were hoping the Sixers would be able to shake off what has been a couple of really rancid performances lately, the bad news is 11 of their next 13 games come on the road. The good news is that as both they and the Kings keep losing, those odds for a top-3 pick keep climbing. 19 games left, everybody.